Nonfiction book ideas for 5 year old?
February 11, 2019 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get some nonfiction kids books for my five year old. We have a few from the library -- one about space, in particular, was a hit -- but most all seem a bit wordy and often too complicated for her age range. Any suggestions of others, on any topic? I mean, is there like a "Bearenstain Bears" of nonfiction? :)
posted by heavenknows to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You might like the Let's Read and Find Out Series. My kids loved these when the were little--they're age-appropriate for smaller kids, but the science is accurate, and so are the illustrations, rather than being cartoony. They have a gazillion titles. We had no trouble getting most of the ones we were interested in from the library. We really liked the one about worms and the one about spiders, especially.

If you're interested in human development, you can't do better than Robie M. Harris's books. Again, very accurate, age-appropriate information about reproduction and other relevant topics. There's a whole series, and all are very good. I think the first one is It's Not the Stork. Our only complaint about them is that they stick to the gender binary--my trans kid wrote the author a letter about it after reading It's So Amazing!, another book in the series.
posted by Orlop at 6:27 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

The National Geographic kids series are my go-to for non-fiction with my 6 year old.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 6:36 AM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I mean, is there like a "Bearenstain Bears" of nonfiction? :)

Literally, yes, or at least there has been in the past. I think I read the Bears’ Almanac when I was little. There also seem to be other Bear Facts titles (science, nature, etc.)

See also the Charlie Brown Super Book of Questions and Answers series, and/or the related Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedia.

All of these are out of print, and at least a little out of date, but readily available used.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:49 AM on February 11, 2019

My 5yo wanted to know where glass came from, so we checked out this book at the library. It turns out there’s a whole series of these engaging how-it’s-made books and we are slowly making our way through the collection.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 6:56 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

My kids liked the Magic Schoolbus books at about that age.
posted by belladonna at 7:01 AM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

There is a series of Cat in the Hat knows A lot about that books that are entertaining and have some good facts.
posted by MadMadam at 7:14 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Magic School Bus. Make sure you get the originals by Joanna Cole, not the ones based on the TV show.
posted by Redstart at 7:16 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

DK (used to be Dorling Kindersley) publishes wonderful nonfiction books for kids at many ages/reading levels. Fabulous, vibrant photos along with great info. Animals, transportation, space, etc etc.
posted by bookmammal at 7:35 AM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

My kid (almost 5) is super into the DK Encyclopedias on everything: space, the human body, DINOSAURS, animals, the ocean. They seem too complicated at first glance, but this kid knows more about complicated science from reading these daily. Don't underestimate -- if a kid is interested, they'll ask questions and figure things out.

But if that's an overreach on my part, then the Nat Geo books are great: we have animals, dinos and oceans and each section is very digestible.
posted by mrfuga0 at 7:44 AM on February 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

+1 for Magic Schoolbus and Cat in the Hat knows A Lot About That

The "Fly Guy Presents:" series was also very popular when my kid was that age.

Also maybe check into the "Who Would Win?" series - gimmicky, but lots of good factoids and my kid is still completely in love with them.
posted by somanyamys at 8:04 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I often have this problem, where the assumptions about what kids at my son's reading/comprehension level are interested in and the things he's actually interested in are mis-matched. We have had great success with the National Geographic Big Book of.... books. We have the Big Book of How and Big Book of Space. They both have large text and not so much on every page that it's overwhelming (I don't know about your beginning reader, but my beginning reader would nope out immediately from any book with a small font or with too much on the page).

DK and Usborn books are also both great. The DK My First Coding Book and especially the Usborn lift-the-flaps Computers and Coding books were both very much loved and renewed many times.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:23 AM on February 11, 2019

A top meteorologist in Minnesota is Belinda Jensen and she has a series of "Bel the Weather Girl" books that talk about the weather facts of hurricanes, tornadoes, clouds, rain, etc.
posted by jillithd at 9:20 AM on February 11, 2019

Yes Nat Geo - in particular their “Big Book of” series gets well pored over in our house
posted by sestaaak at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2019

Yes, lets read and find out science series. They have numbered levels and just about every topic - things like states of matter, bats, electricty, and space. We loved them.
posted by ReluctantViking at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2019

Oops, i see it was suggested. Well, i second it!
posted by ReluctantViking at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2019

At that age my kid LOVED Who Would Win? Shark vs. Killer Whale
posted by Morpeth at 11:20 AM on February 11, 2019

The Usborne books were great at that age. Here's a link to their publishing catalog so you can see the kind of thing they do, but we picked them up on Amazon, at used book stores, and at local toy stores.
posted by nkknkk at 11:45 AM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Art books. Get some volumes of books with pictures by the old masters. As a kid I growing up with a scientist and an engineer, I relished looking at art books in my own quiet time as an adjunct to all the other, more technical books.
posted by Thella at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

The DK Eyewitness books will be way above his reading level but they have fantastic photos on every page. You can just look at the pictures and tell him about what the text says and then he can go back on study the pictures more on his own.
posted by metahawk at 1:46 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I remember really enjoying The Way Things Work as a kid, as well as Earthsearch and Explorabook. My brother had a bunch of kids' illustrated encyclopedias and cross-sections books about various time periods and technologies that he read a lot in elementary school, and when they were a little older (maybe middle school?) my cousins really liked Thing Explainer.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 3:23 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

No specific recs, but I know I started devouring biographies at that age. Stories! TRUE stories! About real people!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:03 PM on February 11, 2019

Add another vote for DK, Usborne and Nat Geo. All well beloved in our house. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is also a big hit with our current 5 year old, in fact we were just reading it earlier.
posted by goggie at 8:05 PM on February 11, 2019

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, and Busytown.
posted by at at 8:55 PM on February 11, 2019

Grandmother Fish is a beautifully illustrated book about evolution and the tree of life that is squarely aimed at that age range. My daughter loved it when she was preschool age. It also has some matter at the back of the book that's written for parents to foster further discussion.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:53 AM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your local library should be a great treasure trove for this. There are books about colors in nature, community helpers, tools used by various careers (doctor, dentist, construction worker), animals, lifecycles of plants and animals, natural science, where food comes from, vehicles, weather, concepts, space, dinosaurs, gross/wacky body stuff, history, social sciences, how it's made or how stuff works, and more. I work on these kinds of books for a living (including some listed above) and there are literally thousands published every year. Our small branch library has a kids nonfiction picture book section where stuff is organized by topic. I also request a lot through the entire library system as well as interlibrary loan.

In addition to the series type stuff above, recent favorites of my four and six year old are Moonshot (the moon landing), Bedtime Math (recommended by someone here) and the Big Book of Batman which is nonfiction because it is full of facts about the Batman universe, I guess. About his tools and friends and enemies, no storyline. Your local children's librarian would LOVE to be asked this question.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:17 PM on February 12, 2019

My kids loved Next Stop, Grand Central, Maira Kalman's book about all the people that work at Grand Central Station. Funny, smart, and gives some perspective on looking at different kinds of people and jobs.
posted by eve harrington at 12:11 PM on February 17, 2019

Oh, also fact books (The Big Book of Facts kind of things, Rock Facts, Sports Facts, American Presidents Facts, etc) and annual yearbooks (milestones of any given year, sometimes published by newsmagazines for kids) were a hit for my non-fiction-loving son.
posted by eve harrington at 12:13 PM on February 17, 2019

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